Upper secondary school and vocational education and training in Finland

Lukio ja ammatillinen koulutus Suomessa
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Here you will find information on studies after comprehensive school in Finland, i.e. upper secondary school and vocational education and training. You can also find information on how to apply to upper secondary schools and vocational education and training in Finland.

You can apply for upper secondary education if you have completed comprehensive school or equivalent. Anyone who has completed comprehensive school or equivalent education abroad or is living abroad can also apply for upper secondary education in Finland. You can find general information on secondary education and vocational education and training on Studyinfo.

There is an agreement between the Nordic countries which guarantees that students can apply for secondary education and vocational training in other Nordic countries on an equal footing with applicants from that country. The agreement also obliges countries to recognise education and training completed in another Nordic country.

If you are interested in studying at upper secondary level in Åland, see the page Guide: studying in Åland.

Education options

In Finland, you can complete upper secondary education either in upper secondary schools or in vocational education.

Upper secondary education

Upper secondary schools in Finland provide a broad general education and good preparation for higher education. Upper secondary education does not provide professional qualifications.

Upper secondary education takes an average of three years, usually leading to a matriculation examination. Passing the matriculation examination gives students general eligibility for higher education. Completing upper secondary school without the matriculation examination gives you the right to apply to a university of applied sciences or vocational education. Information on the grades awarded can be found on the page Grading scales in Finland.

Upper secondary schools can be public or private. Education and the learning materials and equipment required for teaching are always free of charge for students. For more information on compulsory education and free studies, see Studyinfo.

Upper secondary schools usually teach in Finnish or Swedish. In larger cities, there are also international upper secondary schools where you can also study in languages such as English, German or French. Read more about upper secondary education on the websites of the Finnish National Agency for Education and Studyinfo.

Vocational education and training

Vocational education and training includes vocational upper secondary qualifications, vocational qualifications and specialised vocational qualifications. A vocational upper secondary qualification can be taken as initial vocational training, a competence-based qualification or apprenticeship training. The most common option for young people who have completed basic education is day-time studies in basic training. Adults can study flexibly and complete a competence-based qualification flexibly whilst working.

As well as vocational studies, the education includes some general education, elective studies and work placements. In addition to vocational training for young people, you can also study at upper secondary school or sit matriculation examinations. Vocational education and training and the necessary equipment and materials are free of charge for students in compulsory education.

Vocational education and training may include training provided in the workplace, either as an apprenticeship or under a training contract. Apprenticeships are training where learning takes place mainly in the workplace in the context of work tasks. It can be supplemented by learning in other learning environments as appropriate. In apprenticeship-based training, students learn on the job in the context of their work tasks. In this type of training, the student is not in an employment relationship. Read more about apprenticeships and training contracts on the website of the Finnish National Agency for Education.

Vocational education and training is available in both Finnish and Swedish, but not all degrees are available in Swedish. There is not much vocational education and training in English, and applications are usually made directly to the educational institution rather than through the joint application.​​​

Information on the grades awarded can be found on the page Grading scales in Finland. After completing your vocational qualification, you can continue your studies in higher education at a university of applied sciences or take an entrance exam to a university.

Read more about vocational education and training on Studyinfo and the Finnish National Agency for Education's website.

Preparatory education for qualifications

Before you move on to secondary education, you may wish to follow a preparatory course for a qualification, called TUVA. You can apply for TUVA training either in the joint application in the spring or through rolling admission throughout the year. Read more about TUVA education on Studyinfo.

Applying for upper secondary education

Applications for upper secondary school and vocational education and training for young people in Finland are made in the February-March secondary joint application in the Studyinfo service, where you can also find more information about the available courses and the application process. You can also apply for some training courses through rolling admission. Application deadlines vary depending on the training course; more information can be found on Studyinfo.

If you completed your basic education abroad, you must submit a copy of your certificate to the institutions to which you are applying by the closing date for applications. For those who attended basic education outside Finland, selection is at the discretion of the institution, as the certificates are not comparable. Read more about discretionary admission on Studyinfo.

You do not apply for adult vocational education and training through the joint application procedure, but directly to the educational institution. You can apply for adult vocational education and training throughout the year. Application deadlines vary depending on the training courses.

If you already have a vocational or higher education degree or have completed upper secondary school, you cannot participate in the joint application for post-compulsory education. However, you can apply for vocational education and training or adult vocational education and training through rolling admission.

Read more about applying for post-compulsory education on Studyinfo.

Other study opportunities

You can also come to Finland to study as an exchange student or do a work placement in Finland as part of your studies.

Student exchanges

A school usually takes you to Finland for a week or a month, but depending on the school, your exchange period can last a week, a month, a few months or even an academic year. In addition to exchanges, your school may also have international projects with students from different countries. Feel free to ask your school for more information.

High school exchanges between the Nordic countries are common, as schools can access funding from the Nordplus and Erasmus+ programmes. Your school's staff will handle the administrative aspects of your exchange and help you with your application. 

Work placements

Workplace learning as part of a vocational qualification can be done abroad. Ask your school what options are available to you. If you are studying on an apprenticeship, contact your apprenticeship office.

What should I know about studying in Finland?

If you come to Finland to study, it is also good to about student accommodation, funding, recognition of Finnish qualifications in other Nordic countries and things that young people should take into account. We have collected information on these on the page Guide: studying in Finland.

Do you want to do your upper secondary studies in another Nordic country?

The pages listed below provide information on upper secondary education and how to apply for it in other Nordic countries.

More information

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